NBA rumors: Jaylen Brown set to return from injury tonight

Jared Weiss: Celtics list Jaylen Brown as available after missing a game with a sore hip, while Romeo Langford is out of the COVID protocol and is now out due to reconditioning. Presumably will return in the next couple games.

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With the United States entering what the government is calling the “fourth wave” of COVID-19 infections, the slow return to normalcy is proving difficult in both the NBA and society at large. A league source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said teams have been instructed by the league office that they cannot jump the line to get members of their organizations vaccinated, and nobody will be forced to be vaccinated against their will. But at the same time, extraordinary efforts are being made to educate players and team personnel about the merits of vaccination.
One source said that one of the most difficult tasks has been dispelling myths being perpetuated by anti-vaccine advocates whose information is being re-reported by some mainstream media companies and spreading on social media and online forums. Privately, players have expressed that they are hesitant to get the vaccine due to systemic distrust in the U.S. government, in large part due to the infamous "Tuskegee Experiment," league sources told BasketballNews.com.
After flying to Boston, Fournier took a COVID test prior to the Celtics’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which came back positive. According to Fournier, multiple subsequent tests all came back negative, and the doctor told him his COVID levels were very low on the positive test. “I’m glad it’s over because that was not the best timing for that to happen, me just getting started,” Fournier said. “I’m glad it’s over.”
Duane Rankin: #Suns updated injury report vs. Hawks. Frank Kaminsky III (health and safety protocols) OUT Abdel Nader (knee) OUT
Evan Fournier's debut with the Boston Celtics will have to wait, as the newly acquired guard was placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols on Saturday. "I don't really want to get into the specifics of everything, because I don't know all the answers," coach Brad Stevens said before the Celtics played the Thunder in Oklahoma City. "As far as frustration, it's been a very consistent theme for us to be missing people. But hopefully that won't be long term. We'll see how this all goes and go from there."
Such as the COVID-19 vaccines, which some NBA athletes are opposed to taking. “No sir,” Warriors wing Kent Bazemore said Wednesday in a video conference with reporters.
Bazemore considers his decision “a lifestyle thing,” as he is not keen on making allowances. “I do everything I can to strengthen my immune system, with hours upon hours of cooking, preparing my meals at home, really being conscious of what I put in my body and taking care of my health,” he said. “My family has a history of heart disease and all these different things, and I’m trying to turn that around for my lineage. So, I’m taking it upon myself to do everything I can to keep my immune system strong and live a healthy and long life.”
Ava Wallace: Scott Brooks, speaking pretty generally, says there have been talks with the Wizards about getting the vaccine. "There's a lot of people that probably need it more than myself... my stance is I'm willing to take a backseat. But there are definitely discussions."
Unlike the teams, your staff is flying commercial, which adds another layer of potential risk. What has it been like for your staff? And how many have been affected by the virus? Monty McClutchen: Due to flying commercial, our referees have to leave two days in advance from home now, to make sure that they're getting several PCR-negative tests before they go on the floor. We can't do a PCR test, and then fly and then go on the floor. We have had some people test positive, a very, very small number. They were not impacting games at that point; the testing did exactly what it was supposed to do. But we've had people miss games. We've had more two-person games [instead of a three-person crew] than we've ever had in a season.

http://twitter.com/bosnianbeast27/status/1374068155388108802
The director of sports medicine at AdvocateAurora, and sports physician for the University of Illinois-Chicago, Skiba says the long-term effects of COVID-19 have stumped doctors and wishes he had better answers for players like Tatum—who is not a client, but sounds like one. “He’s not the exception,” Skiba says. “I see that at least a half dozen times a week.” “A lot of it is a mystery,” Skiba says. “It’s like having a fleet of Ferraris. It requires a certain amount of know-how and mechanics to be able to take care of that fleet. And right now, no one's got the owner's manual.”
Every team has been impacted by COVID-19 this season. According to a study by Fansure.com that analyzed the NBA’s official injury reports, all 30 teams have listed at least one player under the COVID-19-related “Health and Safety Protocols” designation. The Celtics and Mavericks have seen the most time spent in protocol (94 player-days for Boston; 91 player-days for Dallas).
Athletes of all kinds are looking for answers. Skiba has become quite prominent in the sports medicine space on Twitter for his work on COVID-19. He has been hearing from athletes—including NBA players—through Twitter direct messages. Mostly he advises NBA players to proceed with an extremely conservative approach. Skiba has seen several instances of endurance athletes coming back too soon, which sets them back for months. He’s seen collegiate runners who regularly used to post sub-15-minute 5Ks who still can’t clock in under 30 minutes months after COVID. “The scary part is,” Skiba says,” we don’t know why that is yet.”
In the fourteen seasons since 2005-06, Stotts has identified 307 confirmed cases of respiratory illness in the NBA including the flu, cold and upper respiratory infection (Stotts excluded last season for consistency purposes). In that sample, players, as a group, missed an average of 26.5 games a season to respiratory illness. 40 games into this season, that number is 213 games lost, or eight times as much as a normal.
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA, NBPA have agreed to new protocols for COVID-19 vaccinated individuals: - No quarantine for exposure - No PCR tests on days off - Interact with any other person at home (not at bar, club, lounge) - Go to outdoor restaurants - Four guests on road without prior testing
Derrick Rose has been out seven straight games because of COVID-19 issues — with Thibodeau saying Tuesday that he’s “feeling a a lot better.” But the coach had no date for his return. NBA sources said physicians analyze each COVID-19 situation case-by-case.
Fred VanVleet practiced with the Toronto Raptors in Detroit on Tuesday, following a two-and-a-half-week absence triggered by a positive COVID-19 test result. On a Zoom call, the Raptors guard said that he had "two really bad days" of symptoms while "bunkered down" in isolation. "I tested positive, had symptoms pretty soon after that," VanVleet said. "Back sore. Body aches. I just (felt) like I just played three nights in a row. Sore, headache, my eyes were hurting. I didn't have the shortness of breath or anything like that. I had a fever for a day and a half, two days. But definitely nothing like anything I've ever had. I could feel that it was something different. I just felt the sickness, I could just feel it in me, I could feel it in my bones and my blood and my muscles."
"It was a whirlwind, definitely an experience that I won't forget," VanVleet said. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody. But I'm here, I'm alive, I'm breathing. And I know that there's a lot of people that didn't make it through COVID, so my thoughts and my heart is with the families and people that's been affected by this thing that weren't as fortunate as I was and as I am."
He expressed particular sympathy, however, for the coaches who have been away from the team, and took issue with a tweet from The Athletic's Shams Charania that cited sources saying inconsistent mask-wearing among members of the coaching staff accounted for the spread. "If I was named in that tweet as part of the blame, I would've been really, really mad," VanVleet said. "So, as a player who loves my coaching staff, I'm pissed off for them that that was even put out there. Shams is my guy, and I get it, he was reporting something that somebody told him. But whoever told him that is a few words I won't [say in] public."
Sources told ESPN that while the majority of players on the Pelicans who were eligible received the shot, not every player did. Pelicans reserve guard Sindarius Thornwell became the first player to publicly acknowledge his intent to get the vaccine with a tweet late Friday night.
"League policy requires teams to follow their state's vaccination guidelines and programs and we are fully supportive of players and team staff being vaccinated when they are eligible," an NBA spokesperson said in a statement. Around the league, some coaches have begun to probe performance staff and team doctors, asking them when a vaccine will become available. At least one team intends to put together vaccine programs for staff and players, but that could still be weeks away.
One year ago, Andy Larsen had writer’s block in the weirdest place. He was sitting on the floor of an NBA arena, his back against the scorer’s table, his Cole Haans pointed toward center court. Being present for the shutdown of the NBA season is a once-in-a-lifetime story. Larsen wanted to write something good. He just couldn’t get his vital organs on the same page. Glancing at his Fitbit, Larsen saw his heart rate climb to 100 beats per minute. But his brain was moving like Greg Ostertag. “I couldn’t get out more than a sentence at a time that made any kind of narrative sense,” he said.
Larsen, who is 29, is one of two Utah Jazz beat writers at the Salt Lake Tribune. Thanks partly to his formative years as a TrueHoop Network blogger, Larsen asks tough questions without letting delicacy get in the way. Joe Ingles has blocked Larsen on Twitter. After a Jazz loss to the Pelicans this month, Larsen asked Donovan Mitchell why he missed so many dunks. “His charm is that he lacks all social tact,” said Ben Anderson, who covers the Jazz for KSLsports.com.
March 11, 2020, was one of the great record scratches in sportswriting history. To find a decent comp, you’d have to go back to a spasm of terror at the Olympics or maybe a soccer riot. Three Jazz beat writers went to Oklahoma City to see whether the team could get a leg up on the 4-seed in the Western Conference. They wound up covering a league shutdown that signaled just how severe the pandemic would become in the United States. Personal fear became part of an NBA beat job in a way the writers had never experienced. “I like this [job] because I don’t have to see dead bodies,” said Anderson. “I like this because I don’t have to deal with the heavy part of it. The worst thing that is going to happen to me this year is that a bunch of 76ers fans are mad at me.”
The first thing to understand about March 9 is that the Jazz weren’t trying to protect the beat writers from Gobert. They were trying to protect Gobert from the beat writers. “The idea was that any of us unwashed media masses could infect Rudy Gobert,” said Larsen. Don’t put our $25 million-a-year shot blocker on the DL! When Gobert touched their recorders, the beat writers saw him offering an olive branch. As Anderson told me, “I thought that was Rudy trying to say, ‘Hey, I get we’re all being cautious. We’re all being careful. I’m going to show you I’m still willing to bridge this gap.’” “He’s telling us, ‘I’m not afraid of you. Don’t worry, guys, we’re cool,’” said Todd. “It was more like a sign of solidarity than anything.”
A year ago, the Jazz beat writers were like a lot of Americans when it came to COVID-19. “Nobody was really overly alarmed,” said Jones. On the March East Coast road trip, Todd wondered whether she and Jones should buy masks. When Larsen is on the road, Walden normally watches games on TV at home. But on March 11, he asked his boss whether he could have the night off to take his son to an All Elite Wrestling event, where they were surrounded by thousands of other fans. “I knew that there were only a handful of cases in Utah,” said Larsen. “I knew that there were limited deaths in America. I was honestly frustrated by kind of the piecemeal establishment of some of these restrictions.” After Larsen landed in Oklahoma City, he and members of the Jazz’s in-house media team went to a bar to play trivia.
In the media dining room, a source told Larsen that Gobert had been tested for COVID-19, which made the possibility that he had it slightly less remote. A few minutes later, the Jazz announced that Gobert wasn’t playing against the Thunder, after all. As tipoff approached, the writers sat in their press seats at the top of the lower bowl, watching the events that are now the subject of documentaries and oral histories. They saw the Thunder team doctor corner the refs. The PA announcer said the teams were awaiting “league confirmation” to start the game. “I’ve been covering the NBA for eight years,” said Todd. “There has never been an instance where you had to wait on league confirmation to start. That’s not a thing.”
William Lou: Nick Nurse pushes back on report that Raptors cases are linked to coaches not wearing masks: "I don't think anybody would have any idea what they're talking about, saying that. That is unfair, very speculative thing to say."
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January 28, 2022 | 4:46 am EST Update

Teams growing suspicious about talks between James Harden, Sixers owner

Chris Haynes: There’s another player we’re going to add to this dynamic. Michael Rubin. For those who don’t know, the Sixers co-owner is very, very, very good friends with James Harden. And I’ve been talking to a rival owner, talking to rival front office executives, who believe that there can be some talk going on now between both sides.
Chris Haynes: Some front office executives are prepared to… when the time comes, if a deal does look like is about to transpire where there could be some potential sign-and-trade in the offseason… They’re prepared to get the league involved on a potential collusion case dating back to what they what they believe could be going on right now, you know as to why we’re probably hearing a lot of Philadelphia, James Harden talk. I was told there will be complaints issued to the league on try to investigate to see if there was any collusion.
Like it may also be coming from there, but I’ve heard this. I’m sure you have to, like it’s other people around the league who are not part of Brooklyn’s, uh, franchise or part of the Sixers, who have said they’re hearing that James Harden is looking around wondering what his other options may be and eyeing Philly because of the obvious. Relationship with Daryl Morey, trust there from other years in Houston together. Hardens also tight with Michael Rubin, one of the Sixers owners, no mystery about this stuff, but I was hearing an entire case being made for why Harden might go to Philly this summer and it’d have to be via sign and trade of course, from an executive who is not with either of these franchises.
Storyline: James Harden Free Agency
But eight-time All-Star Vince Carter disagreed, believing the Nets need to do their due diligence and assess the trade market for Harden. “If you’re the Brooklyn Nets, what’s wrong with taking calls? Because if Harden chooses to go elsewhere, you’re left with nothing. So just make sure you know what’s going on or at least have an idea what the market looks like,” he said. “You want to make sure you get something in return, they want to make sure they get the right pieces to add to this Brooklyn team if they lose Harden.